Rankings

Mountain West: ‘Angry’ Air Force punishes Pack

Nevada quarterback Nate Cox running against Air Force on Sept. 24, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Nevada quarterback Nate Cox running against Air Force on Sept. 24, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Nevada Athletics

The Nevada Wolf Pack ran into a motivated, determined and upset Air Force Falcons football team last Friday.
“Everybody was really angry about what happened against Wyoming,” Air Force running back Brad Roberts said of a 17-14 loss to Wyoming the previous week.
The Falcons, the No. 2 team in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings, rolled over the No. 9 Wolf Pack on Friday, 48-20. Air Force, led by Roberts’ 123 yards and three touchdowns, controlled the ball for nearly 44 minutes and rushed for 541 yards on 78 carries.
“We wanted to go out and show how it should be, like we are a great team,” said Air Force running back John Lee Eldridge, who had 102 yards on just eight carries. “We went out and showed it.”
Air Force, now 3-1, 1-1, also completed an 80-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Ben Brittain to wide receiver David Cormier late in the first quarter. It is the longest touchdown pass against Nevada since Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen connected with Michael Floyd on an 88-yard score in a 35-0 Irish victory in 2009.
“We felt like there was a coverage opportunity,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said.
“It was nice to show off my speed a little bit,” said Cormier with a smile.
Air Force had six touchdowns and two field goals on its eight drives that did not end because of the clock (at halftime and the end of the game). Nevada had just 38 plays for 242 yards and 11 first downs.
“We needed it,” Air Force linebacker Alec Mock said. “We practiced hard all week and it showed.”
No. 1 Wyoming (3-2, 1-0) lost to BYU, 34-24. BYU held Wyoming to just 278 yards, 154 by quarterback Andrew Peasley through the air.
No. 3 Fresno State (1-2, 0-0) did not play last week while No. 4 San Diego State got past Toledo, 17-14, on a 1-yard touchdown run by Jordan Byrd with 41 seconds to play. Byrd finished with 115 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. San Diego State quarterback Braxton Burmeister had runs of 18, 15, and 13 yards on the Aztecs’ 67-yard game-winning drive in the final three minutes.
No. 5 UNLV (3-1, 1-0) knocked off No. 8 Utah State (1-3, 0-1), 34-24, as running back Aidan Robbins rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Doug Brumfield was 21-of-31 for 217 yards and a score.
The Rebels had five interceptions in a game for the first time since 1992 against Pacific. UNLV is also 3-1 for the first time since 2008 (when the Rebels beat Utah State, Arizona State and Iowa State.
“You’d be hard-pressed not to be excited about what’s going on,” said UNLV head coach Marcus Arroyo, who has won five of his last eight games after losing his first 14. “There’s a confidence and a lot of pride that is getting developed. And it’s only going to get better.”
The Rebels have had just one winning season (7-6 in 2013) since 2000.
“This (a 3-1 record) puts a target on our backs,” Brumfield said. “They (opponents) are hunting for us now. We just have to have the mentality that we go out and punish everybody.”
No. 6 San Jose State (2-1, 0-0) whipped Western Michigan 34-6 as quarterback Chevan Cordeiro completed 17-of-28 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Former Nevada wide receivers Elijah Cooks (one touchdown), Charles Ross (one touchdown) and Justin Lockhart (four catches, 116 yards) stood out for the Spartans.
“It was fun to see our offense get going,” San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said.
Western Michigan beat San Jose State, 23-3, last year in Kalamazoo, Mich., and also whipped a depleted Nevada team, 52-24, in the Quick Lane Bowl last Dec. 27 in Detroit.
“I’d like to say this means we’re going in a great direction but it’s just one game,” Brennan said. “It only counts as one. But things are pointing in the right direction.”
No. 7 Boise State (2-2, 1-0) suffered a 27-10 loss at UTEP, picking up just 14 first downs and 177 yards on offense. Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier was just 13-of-34 for 93 yards and put his name into the transfer portal on Monday. Bachmeier will redshirt this season, leaving him with two years of eligibility for his new team.
The Broncos also fired offensive coordinator Tim Plough on Sunday and replaced him with former Boise State head coach (1998-2000) Dirk Koetter.
“We obviously weren’t at our best and it starts with me,” Boise State head coach Andy Avalos said.
Avalos is 9-7 in his second year as Boise’s head coach. The last Broncos head coach to lose seven of his first 16 games was Koetter in 1998-99.
“We were just getting behind the chains,” Avalos said of the UTEP game. “It was second and long, then third and long. We just put ourselves in tough positions.”
Boise State is expected to start Taylen Green at quarterback starting this Friday at home against San Diego State. Green, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound freshman, was 19-of-28 for 155 yards and also rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-17 loss to Oregon State on Sept. 3.
“They (UTEP) were on the field the whole game (on offense),” said Avalos, referring to the Broncos’ 19:25 time of possession. “Everybody could see how tired our defense was.”
The final three teams in this week’s rankings all suffered blowout losses last week. No. 10 New Mexico (2-2, 0-1) lost 38-0 at LSU, No. 11 Colorado State (0-4, 0-0) lost to Sacramento State, 41-10, at home while No. 12 Hawaii (1-4, 0-0) lost 45-26 to New Mexico State at home. It is New Mexico State’s first victory over a Mountain West team after 14 consecutive losses since 2018.
Colorado State is off to its worst start since it began 0-6 in 2007. “We’re obviously disappointed in the game,” Colorado State coach Jay Norvell said of the loss to the FCS Hornets. “We have to make each other accountable. Ultimately, it’s my job to make everybody accountable.”
Colorado State will play at Nevada on Oct. 7 in Norvell’s return to Mackay Stadium, where he coached from 2017-21. Both Nevada and Colorado State do not play this week. Colorado State will bring a four-game losing streak and Nevada will bring a three-game losing streak into the game next Friday night (7:30 p.m.).
“We just have to be better,” said Norvell, whose quarterback, Clay Millen, missed the second half against Sacramento State with an injury after completing all seven of his passes. “It’s basic football. We have guys that are on-scholarship football players. We need them to respond that way.”
Norvell lost his first five games as Nevada’s coach in 2017 and now has lost his first four games as Colorado State’s head coach.
“It is what it is,” he said. “As coaches we can’t blame the players. They are our players. We have to help them get better.”
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings for the week of Sept. 26 . . .
1. WYOMING (3-2, 1-0). Last week: BYU 38, Wyoming 24. This week: San Jose State at Wyoming, Saturday.
2. AIR FORCE (3-1, 1-1). Last week: Air Force 48, Nevada 20. This week: Navy at Air Force, Saturday.
3. FRESNO STATE (1-2, 0-0). Last week: Idle. This week: Fresno State at Connecticut, Saturday.
4. SAN DIEGO STATE (2-2, 0-0). Last week: San Diego State 17, Toledo 14. This week: San Diego State at Boise State, Friday.
5. UNLV (3-1, 1-0). Last week: UNLV 34, Utah State 24. This week: New Mexico at UNLV, Friday.
6. SAN JOSE STATE (2-1, 0-0). Last week: San Jose State 34, Western Michigan 6. This week: San Jose State at Wyoming, Saturday.
7. BOISE STATE (2-2, 1-0). Last week: UTEP 27, Boise State 10. This week: San Diego State at Boise State, Friday.
8. UTAH STATE (1-3, 0-1). Last week: UNLV 34, Utah State 24. This week: Utah State at BYU, Thursday.
9. NEVADA (2-3, 0-1). Last week: Air Force 48, Nevada 20. This week: Idle.
10. NEW MEXICO (2-2, 0-1). Last week: LSU 38, New Mexico 0. This week: New Mexico at UNLV, Friday.
11. COLORADO STATE (0-4, 0-0). Last week: Sacramento State 41, Colorado State 10. This week: Idle.
12. HAWAII (1-4, 0-0). Last week: New Mexico State 45, Hawaii 26. This week: Idle.

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